Brokers from throughout San Diego County provided their opinions at a recent PSAR breakfast held exclusively for managing brokers and real estate office owners. In addition to discussing critical issues impacting large-size, medium-size and small-size companies, brokers were asked in a survey to identify which current real estate issues were most important to them.
The overwhelming most popular choice among 13 topics selected for consideration was “Statewide MLS.” Other top vote-getting topics included “Education for Agents,” “Changes in BRE Forms,” “Risk Reduction and Training,” “Legal Hotline, “Advocacy Local, State and National” and “Professional Standards,” which include mediation, arbitration and ethics hearings. Of lesser importance to brokers were such topics as “Data Tools,” “Lockbox Services” and “Discounts on Store Products.”
Discussion about a Statewide MLS remains a relevant topic, especially in the context of MLS entities and local Associations failing to enter into or retain desirable data sharing arrangements, as well as rapidly changing developments with listing syndication and the big business of real estate listing portals (Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc.). For many years in the past, complaints were registered about a highly fragmented and inefficient MLS landscape where brokers had to join and pay for multiple MLSs, with incompatible systems and varying rules in order to conduct business over different, yet nearby and contiguous geographic MLS areas.
As a result, several years ago, the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) adopted six guiding MLS principles, including: (1) MLS data needs to be fully standardized with local options for data field variation; (2) California REALTORS® should have universal access to all MLS data; (3) use of MLS data and its distribution to third parties should be controlled by the brokers who provide the data; (4) MLS entities should exist for the benefit of participants and subscribers; (5) MLS rules should be uniform and enforced consistently; and (6) the MLS board of directors should include broker owners with appropriate regional representation.
Currently, our real estate profession is fortunate to have the California Regional MLS (“CRMLS”). CRMLS (www.crmls.org) is the inheritor of the vision for a Statewide MLS. C.A.R. is still contractually connected to CRMLS, but CRMLS is a separate and independent entity carrying forth the Statewide MLS banner. At 75,000 members, it has become the largest MLS in the country and offers choice and variety in the way it works with Associations as well as technology front ends for users. It has made great strides in moving towards a statewide data share with other MLSs. And it is still firmly behind the initiative to create a statewide MLS. In so doing, it has the support of C.A.R. behind it.
Going forward, wide-scale data sharing between MLSs can be a significant benefit to REALTORS®. PSAR believes that a singular Statewide MLS with multiple front ends of choice is best in terms of serving the needs of California’s REALTORS®. The technology and expertise exists to do it, and the cost savings alone would seem to be reason enough.
“PSAR believes that a strong broker-directed, association-driven Statewide MLS would be a powerful force ensuring broad access to and control of data for California REALTORS® on their own terms, said Anthony Andaya, 2016 PSAR president. “Unfortunately, many people outside our industry have an interest in directing our future, but REALTORS® should certainly have the primary seats at our own industry table. Access to real estate listing data should be unfettered by people, politics or geographical borders.”